Spy Glass Page 29

After five such visits, I finally discovered a long metal cabinet hidden under a sheet and under piles of boxes. Its long drawers were only a few inches deep—the perfect size for blueprints. They were also locked.

I pulled my lock picks from the hem of my shirt. Using a diamond pick and my tension wrench, I unlocked the cabinet. Buried beneath detailed maps of Fulgor, I found the blueprints for Wirral. Each level of the prison had its own sheet. I gathered all ten oversize pages and folded them to resemble a stack of papers, which I shoved into a file folder. If Finn spotted me leaving the Councilor’s Hall with rolls of paper, my intentions would be obvious.

However, it appeared as if Finn had lost interest in me. He had gotten what he wanted—my reason for being in Fulgor. I hadn’t seen him in days, but again, with someone like him it didn’t mean he wasn’t watching my every move. At least, I still had my escorts and I kept my guard up, determined not to relax.

With all the information and documents I had collected on my excursions, I outgrew my tiny room at the Second Chance Inn. Time for a bigger place with more privacy.

I hadn’t planned to buy it. My intentions had been to find an apartment or small cottage to rent. But when I passed the building with its bright For Sale sign hanging in the window, I couldn’t resist.

I didn’t need it, didn’t know what I would do with all that space and equipment and couldn’t form a good enough explanation as to why I bought it. So much had happened there, and I had no fond memories of the place. Yet I couldn’t walk away and let someone else, probably a saner and more logical someone else, purchase Gressa’s glass factory. Mine now. I waited for the feelings of panic and buyer’s remorse to overwhelm me. Nothing.

The two-story brick building was at the end of a long row of stores. Its narrow front masked the depth of the structure. Unlocking the door, I entered the salesroom. Dust-covered shelves lined the walls and display cases dotted the floor. All of Gressa’s glass pieces had been sold. Since this room would no longer be used as a store, I made a note to buy curtains for the large front windows.

The door into the factory was behind the register. The Employees Only sign remained, but the knob turned under my hand. I paused and viewed the four kilns and various glassmaking paraphernalia. Familiar feelings bubbled, not because I had worked here before, but because the silent cold kilns and abandoned equipment matched my soul.

No hum, no warmth and no magic.

I would eventually need to sell the machinery, but for now I explored the office. Colored glass sheets hung on the walls, and the clear glass desk, tables and chairs remained, but Gressa’s personal things and documents were gone.

The upstairs apartment had also been stripped of Gressa’s belongings. However, there was furniture in the six rooms, and no one had removed the beautiful stained-glass murals. Their intricate swirls of color captured and reflected the weak afternoon sunlight. Truly talented, Gressa had wasted her gift, letting her ego drive her actions.

Cobwebs and dust coated every surface, and the linens would need to be replaced. I left my saddlebags in the one bedroom and spread out my notes and files on the prison in the upstairs office.

Living here would take a while to get used to, and I needed to change the locks and buy an extensive list of items, yet I felt…comfortable. Strange.

It was seven days into the warming season, and instead of meeting me at the inn per our routine, I had asked Nic and Eve to come to the factory in the morning. They were unhappy with my new location.

“Do you like being an easy target?” Nic asked. “There are too many points of entry, it’s too big to guard effectively and the neighborhood is too deserted at night.”

“You’re right,” I said and laughed at his shocked expression. “But I’m not moving. Can you make it safer for me?”

He grumbled and hedged and finally agreed to try. We walked to HQ and joined in with the morning training. While we practiced, a large group of men and a few women arrived. They bustled about the west end of the building, carrying shovels and pushing wheelbarrows.

“Construction crew for the expansion,” Eve said.

And jobs for the fired guards. I scanned the workers, looking for Cole’s cousin. Even though the prison guard at the Spotted Dog hadn’t taken me up on my offer, I had located his cousin, securing him a position with the crew. “Who are the people in the blue jumpers?” I asked.

“Prisoners,” Eve said.

“From Wirral?”

“That would be unwise. And I’m starting to think you’ve been hanging around Nic too long.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Nic asked her.

“It’s called thinking before speaking. You ought to try it sometime. It’ll reduce the number of bar fights I have to break up.”

Before they could launch into an exchange of insults, I stepped between them. “Prisoners from the low security prison?”

“Yes, from Dawnwood,” she said. “The ones who have gained a certain amount of trust, and it’s also a way for them to give back to the community.”

I spotted a few correctional officers. Instead of helping with the construction, the COs watched the blue jumpers. Although they were armed, they were also outnumbered. “Aren’t they worried the prisoners will try to escape?”

“A few have tried over the years, but they earn points for good behavior and for volunteering for these work details. If they accumulate enough points, then their sentences can be reduced.”

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